By Allison Lind
Selling a home is never a simple task, but there's one way to up your chances of getting those closing papers signed: Stage your home. Home staging is credited with selling 95 percent of homes within 35 days or less- in comparison, non-staged homes take an average of 172 days to sell-according to the National Association of Realtors. Not only that, but investing 1 to 3 percent of your home's asking price in staging can generate a return of 8 to 10 percent on the final selling price. We asked Sabrina Soto, host of HGTV's Get It Sold, and Starr Osborne, author of Home Staging That Works: Sell Your Home in Less Time for More Money (Amacom, March 2010), for their tips to get your home ready for market.
1. Know your audience. The average buyer nationally is 32, while the average seller is 57. "That's a huge aesthetic generation gap," Osborne says. Edit out dated items and add trend-forward pieces to attract a younger buyer.
2. Make a good first impression. Potential buyers spend a few minutes on your doorstep waiting for their agent to open the lock box, so it's crucial that your home look great from the start. "Make sure you have tidy bushes, a clean front door and a working doorbell," says Soto. "It sets the tone for the inside of your home."
3. Get yourself out of the house. "If the home is too personal, potential buyers automatically detach because it's your home, not theirs," says Osborne. Pack up all photos, memorabilia and other personal items that make the house look like it currently belongs to you. "It's not about making the buyer see potential in your home," Soto adds. "It's about making them feel as if they're already there."
4. Cut out the clutter. "One common mistake people make when selling a home is having too much stuff around," says Soto. Ideally, you'll want to remove about a third of your things. Pay special attention to anything that's blocking doorways or exits, and store "extra" pieces of furniture, like ottomans or magazine holders.
5. Bring in a friend. "If you've lived in your home for 10 or 20 years, you probably don't even see the clutter anymore," says Soto. "And it's tough to picture rooms arranged any other way than how they've always been." A fresh set of eyes can help you see a new perspective- or new potential. "It's so much easier if someone else comes in to give it a second look," says Osborne.
6. Clean very thoroughly. "Think about it," Soto says. "When you see dirt of your own, it's 'clean' dirt because you know where it came from. But when it's someone else's dirt, it's quite the turnoff." Go beyond your weekly upkeep to tackle imperfections you've gotten used to, like scratched doorframes or mildewed tile grout.
7. Organize what's left. Don't just stash everything-you need those hiding places to look good, too. "Potential buyers will look through closets, open drawers in the kitchen and check out all the nooks and crannies," Soto says. "So make sure every last space is decluttered."
8. Freshen up the paint. Wall colors should be neutral, since the bold color you love could be too wild for the next owner. Stick to white, cream or pale earth tones. "Shaker Beige by Benjamin Moore is a foolproof color, the perfect beige," says Soto.
9. Update your accessories. Small additions (and subtractions) can have a big impact. Soto, who's also the style expert for home at Target, suggests looking there for inexpensive new window panels and throw pillows for the living room and bedrooms. "There are great styles for under $20."
10. Don't forget the yard. Trim or take out any bushes that have grown over window ledges. Plant seasonal color to give the house extra energy. Keep lawns beautifully manicured and gardens weeded with easy plantings.Photo: © Sam Oberter/Woman's Day
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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